When we’re stressed, even the thought of meditating can be stressful. We are in such a hurry to get rid of the things that we believe are causing our stress that taking time out to meditate is the last thing we can imagine doing. How could I possibly meditate now??!!  But I have come to believe that when we’re stressed, meditating for a moment is one of the best things we can do. The challenge is to realize that we don’t need special equipment, a peaceful place, or even a lot of time in order to meditate. We can do it wherever we are, and it only takes a moment. No one even has to know that we’re doing it.

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Since writing One-Moment Meditation, I have met many people who were, at first, incredulous at my proposition that you can meditate in just a moment.

Many people assume that meditation takes a lot of time. Others think of meditation as an endurance test--the longer you can sit still, at peace, the more spiritual you are. Many people believe that the amount of time you spend in meditation has to "add up" before you "get it."

The unfortunate consequence of all this is that many people try to meditate and give up, or just don't try at all.

But time and time again, in seminars and workshops, I have taught people that it really is possible to make a make a meaningful change in their state of mind quickly--i.e. to meditate in a minute or less. Once they realize this, meditation suddenly becomes accessible. They realize that they can meditate for a moment whenever they need to, whether they are in waiting rooms, in traffic, in board rooms, or in between bites. They stop postponing peacefulness.

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Every day, it is more and more obvious to me how much money could be saved in healthcare by promoting meditation. 

First of all, it could cut down on patient visits and psychosomatic complaints. Then of course there are all the stress-related conditions that have shown to be improved by meditation. (More info on meditation for stress relief here.)

Now here is a study from Stanford University showing that anxiety-prone mice develop more severe cancer then their calm counterparts.

I am not sure how the researchers found anxiety-prone mice, and I certainly hope that they didn't induce anxiety in the mice. Nor am I sure how I would teach mice to meditate,

But one conclusion seems obvious to me: If we could teach anxious people to meditate, and meditate precisely when they feel the most anxiety (e.g. when having medical treatment or when they develop a life-threatening illness) this would surely have some positive effect.

Here is the abstract of the Stanford study


Last year, for National Stress Awareness Month, I published a series of articles here about how stress can be contagious. And I asked readers to vow not to pass their stress on to others for one day.

This year, for National Stress Awareness Day, I want to raise the stakes.

I want you to take that vow formally and publicly. I want you to invite your family and friends and coworkers to take the vow, too.  I want to see if we can create one day in the world that is noticeably less stressful … by taking responsibility for our stress and vowing not to pass it on. (See the end of this article for details.)

It’s really very simple.

When you are suffering from long-term, chronic stress, or just the repeated hassles and incivilities of modern life, you are more likely to make a mistake, drop the ball, kick the dog, blow a fuse. You are also more likely to be sleep-deprived, which makes the other effects of stress, already bad, much worse.

You are also more likely to be hypersensitive, quick to anger, abrupt with your children, or rude to some innocent stranger on the street who just happens to get in your way.

In other words, once you get stressed, if you don’t release that stress quickly and effectively, you are very likely to contribute to someone else’s stress. This is what I call “stresscalation”-- the way in which we pass our stress on to other people, often unwittingly.

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Let me be brief, as there is a hurricane coming and I have lots to do.

But I really need to say this:

Over the last two days, I have heard many politicians and emergency officials on the East Coast reminding us to be "smart" or "cautious."  But I wish that one of them would also remind us to be kind.

Maybe that would be stepping outside the bounds of conventional politics—straying into a more spiritual kind of leadership. Maybe, in preparing for a disaster, kindness just isn't as important as smarts. But still, I feel the need to hear someone remind us about its value.

Of course, health and safety depends on many very practical factors, such as how well we have prepared and how effective the emergency services are in our area. But I expect that much of our experience of a natural disaster also depends on whether we have taken the opportunity to experience a moment of kindness with a stranger.

Let me back up a step.

On Thursday evening, my family and I were evacuated from Cape May, the first place in the Northeast to face a mandatory evacuation. When we heard the order, we had only a ¼ tank of gas, and there were already long lines at gas stations. Nonetheless, we had to join the bumper-to-bumper traffic getting off the Cape, with no sense of when or if we would get gas, or how far up the coast the traffic (or panic) would continue.

I noticed how easily tempers could flare in such a situation, even three days before the hurricane was due to hit. Once we did find a gas station with supplies and a reasonable line, two vehicles—a car and a huge RV--actually cut in line. The RV actually put itself in a position that made it impossible for even those people who already had gas to leave. This astounding and inconsiderate action caused other drivers to become quite angry, not surprisingly, and a shouting match ensued.

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It is so easy to get stressed these days. Watching the news makes you stressed. Checking the weather makes you stressed. Then there are the thousand shocks you must bear just in going about your daily life: You are driving and someone cuts you off. Your boss barks at you. All the salespeople are surly. You can’t reach a human on the phone. Just before the deadline, your computer crashes.

But it doesn't stop there.